A case study on how hard and foolish it is to revive a dead brand
Years ago, if you wanted a beautifully designed Android phone with a full feature set there were not many options. Samsung and LG were entrenched in their plastic era and Google’s Nexus phones were decidedly hit or miss. The days of Android design were dominated by HTC with its One series of smartphones. Where Samsung felt cheap, HTC felt premium. Where Google software had a minimalist approach, HTC offered functionality with powerful features. But after a series of missteps, the company sold off much of its smartphone talent to Google’s Pixel division as it focused on the emerging virtual reality sector. But the company is back with a new smartphone, the HTC Desire 22 Pro. This is a half-hearted return by a company that used to define smartphone design trends and instead is now an afterthought.
New Isn’t Always Better
HTC’s new phone is a fine offering. It checks a lot of boxes that people are looking for in a midrange phone in 2022. A big screen with a high refresh rate, a decently powerful mid-range processor, and support for 5G. But it feels so uninspired. This is a phone that seems to be a parts-bin phone or in other words a slapdash assortment of parts that seem good on paper. HTC’s killer application for this phone is integration with its Vive line of virtual reality products and unlocking Metaverse and VR experiences without the need for a headset.
This is a far cry from the design excellence of the One M8 or the eye-catching appeal of the U11. This phone doesn’t have the polish of these phones, it is unremarkable in every way. Instead, it is relying on the association with some tech buzzwords to make this device seem more appealing. There is mention of the Metaverse, virtual reality, cryptocurrency, and NFTs. HTC is positioning this as a Web3 phone, perhaps because it is otherwise very run-of-the-mill.
This version of HTC is not the same company that many smartphone fans fell in love with nearly a decade ago when the One M7 hit the market. That was a company that for a couple of years…